While it still remains focused on its longer term metaverse initiative, AI has become a much bigger focus for Meta, with Zuck and Co. looking to latch onto the latest tech trend, which it believes will have a transformative impact on how we interact, in almost every way.
With that in mind, Meta will this year look to boost its AI projects, via increased investment in its back-end technology, which could result in some significant new AI elements across its various platforms.
Mark Zuckerberg provided a basic overview of its AI plans in a post on Threads today, in which he gave some vague hints at the next steps.
Zuckerberg sees generative AI merging into all areas of our daily lives, with the introduction of an AI assistant in its Ray Ban Stories glasses being just the start of this systematic melding.
In line with this, Meta will be increasing its investment in hardware, which will include building a massive tech stack, arguably larger than any other individual company.
The focus on the horizon is the development of automated general intelligence, or AGI, which is the holy grail of AI development. AGI systems will essentially be able to think for themselves, so they won’t be just responding to human prompts, but they’d also suggest entirely new options and use cases, in order to further enhance the user experience.
The fear of AI doomers is that this will also lead to a Terminator-like future, where machines become the dominant species of the earth, though most of those developing AI projects don’t see that being the likely case.
For Meta, its vision of the next stage of AI development would involve increased creative capacity through AI interaction, including, potentially, the ability to create whole new VR environments, by simply speaking them into existence.
In a recent conversation with The Verge’s Alex Heath, Zuckerberg also suggested that AI bots will become more commonplace, and a more valuable interactive tool.
“[Zuckerberg] sees a future in which virtual worlds are generated by AI and filled with AI characters that accompany real people. He says a new platform is coming this year to let anyone create their own AI characters and distribute them across Meta’s social apps. Perhaps, he suggests, these AIs will even be able to post their own content to the feeds of Facebook, Instagram, and Threads.”
That seems less interesting, in gradually clogging our “social” media platforms with automated post generates simply engaging back-and-forth with each other. But inevitably, that’s already in progress, with tools that can generate your social posts, and then, logically, the replies to the same.
Whether that’s a positive development or not, the momentum here means that we’re likely too far gone to stop it anyway, and increasingly, it is going to become more difficult to know whether you’re communicating with a real human or a bot presence in each app.
Zuckerberg seems to believe that this will lead to a better experience, in creating personas to interact with as you wish. But I do wonder whether, eventually, that will actually drive more people back to in-person meetings instead, as an antidote to increasingly fabricated online engagement, and a means to maintain essential human connection, which is likely being undervalued from a mental health perspective.
Of course, Meta’s advancing AI tools will also incorporate its bread-winning ads platform, with Meta already touting the enhanced performance of its AI-powered ad tools.
This, too, will continue to improve as Meta expands its machine learning capacity, and it’ll be interesting to see just how good Meta’s targeting can become as a result of broader individual understanding.
Though the same issue persists: How can you continue to improve your ad targeting to real, paying humans when more bots are infiltrating the stream?
When bot profiles share updates, those will be factored into the ad algorithm to determine user interests, which could skew Meta’s ad network in the wrong direction. No doubt Meta’s already factoring this in, but it’s another complication that will accompany the AI-powered future.
The answers to each of these questions are not clear, or even possible to uncover as yet, because nobody knows exactly how all of this will play out.
But what we do know is that Meta is pushing hard on AI development, in a bid to lead the pack, and ultimately draw people into its next-level experiences.